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Town Square Market Owner Richard Kim Convicted Of Selling Alcohol To A 17 Year-Old

6:09 PM, May 22, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)-A D.C. Superior Court judge has found Richard Kim, the owner of Town Square Market in Northwest Washington, guilty of selling alcohol to a minor. Judge Elizabeth Wingo said Kim "should have known this was an underage person" and should not have sold beer and vodka to the teenager in February.

Kim wept in the courtroom when the judge announced her decision. Through a Korean translator, he said he "was lost and very, very upset."

The verdict came one day after a 17-year-old high school junior from McLean, Virginia testified that on February 18th, he bought 30 containers of beer and a bottle of blueberry vodka at Town Square Market. The teen said he used an expired Pennsylvania driver's license belonging to a 22 year-old acquaintance whose photo was on the id.  Minutes later, police arrested the teenager along with store owner Kim.

In court, police testified that the photograph on the driver's license looked nothing like the teenager and had expired in 2010. It also had two holes punched in it, something that should have been a "red flag" to Kim, according to police and the prosecutor.

9 News Now has been investigating Town Square Market on Macarthur Boulevard  since last December. With the help of a 23 year-old newsroom staff member, we watched dozens of alcohol purchases made by teens who said they were as young as 14.

Montgomery County Police have issued more than 40 alcohol citations to minors who bought at Town Square and crossed the line into Maryland. The Metropolitan Police Department only issued one-enough to prosecute.

Kim will be sentenced on June 7th.  He faces up to a year in jail and a one thousand dollar fine. He will also go before ABRA, the District's liquor control board.

ABRA will determine whether Kim is allowed to keep his liquor license, something the neighborhood advisory commission has petitioned against.

Kim's public defender argued that his client had asked for identification from the teenager and said that was all he was required to do, according to D.C. law.  He also claimed that the government did not prove it was actually alcohol in all of the sealed containers.

That prompted the prosecutor to open one container of each of the four types of alcohol. Then the Metropolitan Police Sergeant who seized the evidence in February and Judge Wingo each sniffed the open bottles to determine whether they did in fact contain alcohol. It was decided that they did.

Written by Andrea McCarren

9 NEWS NOW & WUSA9.COM

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